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J Nutr Health Aging. 2004;8(4):220-4.

Nutritional status of older Tibetans in rural Sichuan China.

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Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.



To examine the nutritional status of older Tibetans in rural China.


Cross sectional study.


Remote mountainous region of Sichuan province of Western China.


Forty four male and forty six female Tibetans, over 60 years old were recruited. Body weight, standing height, triceps and bicep skinfold thicknesses (TSF, BSF), mid arm circumference (MAC) and waist circumference (WC) were measured. Dietary intakes were assessed by a twenty-four hour dietary recall. Based on skinfold thicknesses and MAC, total body fat and corrected arm muscle area (CAMA) were calculated by published equations. Their nutritional status and dietary intakes were compared with those of normal older people in Hong Kong and a rural area near Tianjin in the east coast of China.


Compared with Hong Kong older women, the Tibetan older women had similar BMI and total body fat, but their CAMA was significantly greater (p<0.01). The Tibetan older men had lower BMI, total body fat (p<0.05), and higher CAMA than the Hong Kong older men (p<0.05). The average calorie intake in the Tibetans was lower than that of older people in Hong Kong and rural Tianjin. Intakes of protein, vitamins and minerals were the lowest in Tibetans and the highest in older people in Hong Kong.


Older Tibetans had more lean mass than Hong Kong older Chinese despite having lower caloric and protein intakes. Older Tibetan women were fatter than their male counterparts, and they were as fat as the older people in Hong Kong, despite having low caloric intakes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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